During pulp inflammation, recruited macrophages can differentiate into 2 phenotypes: proinflammatory M1 and anti-inflammatory M2. Pulp fibroblasts have previously been shown to regulate pulp inflammation via cytokine and growth factor secretion. We hypothesized that upon carious injury, pulp fibroblasts interact with macrophages and modulate their differentiation.
Cultures of pulp fibroblasts were physically injured and incubated with lipoteichoic acid (LTA) to mimic the pulp environment underlying a carious lesion. Physical injuries without LTA were performed on cultured fibroblasts to simulate the surrounding pulp tissue. Fibroblast supernatants were collected and added to undifferentiated macrophages to study their differentiation into M1 or M2 phenotypes by investigating cytokine secretion profiles and phagocytosis capacity. Histologic staining and immunofluorescence were performed on healthy and carious human tooth sections to localize the 2 macrophage phenotypes.
LTA-stimulated fibroblasts induced macrophage differentiation into the M1 phenotype with a significant increase both in tumor necrosis factor alpha secretion and phagocytosis capacity. By contrast, injured fibroblasts without LTA led to M2 differentiation with a significant increase in interleukin 10 secretion and low phagocytosis capacity. In carious teeth, M1 macrophages were detected mainly in the pulp zone underlying caries, whereas M2 macrophages were detected in the peripheral inflammatory zone.
Fibroblasts induced macrophage differentiation to proinflammatory M1 with high bacteria phagocytosis capacity to control infection at the carious front. Fibroblasts located at the periphery of the inflammatory zone induced macrophage differentiation to anti-inflammatory M2. The fine balance between the 2 phenotypes may represent a prerequisite for initiating the healing process.
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Published online: June 25, 2021
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